Using Amex abroad: Guide to fees and charges

If you're planning on using your American Express card abroad to keep earning all those juicy rewards, you'll also want to be aware of the possible costs.

Updated

If you carry an Amex, the more you shop with it, the merrier – so you surely want to bring it overseas with you and use it for your purchases. But how much will you be charged in fees and what should you be aware of?

  1. Non-sterling transaction fees

    Amex converts all foreign currency transactions into US dollars first, and then into pounds. Amex has its own conversion rate – slightly different from Mastercard’s and Visa’s, but the gap usually isn’t huge. Moreover, Amex charges a 2.99% fee for all non-sterling transactions, which will be added to the conversion rate.

  2. Merchant currency conversion fees (DCC)

    When you purchase something abroad using your card, you’re often asked whether you want to pay in the local currency or in pounds. As a rule of thumb, it’s usually better to pick the local currency, and trust your credit card to handle the conversion. Merchant exchange rates are often terrible and there may be extra fees you aren’t aware of – instead, at least you’ll know from the start how much you’ll be charged by Amex.

  3. Cash advance fees

    Generally speaking, withdrawing cash with a credit card isn’t the brightest idea. Most cards will charge you an extra fee, and cash advances usually aren’t granted any interest-free periods. The amount you withdraw will start accruing interest immediately until you clear the debt. Amex is no exception on this. It charges a 3% or £3 fee (whichever the greatest) on your cash withdrawals, which is to be added to the non-sterling transaction fee. It also says it “will charge interest on all balances that result from cash advances from the date the cash advance is applied to your account irrespective of whether you pay the balance in full”.

  4. Credit card surcharges

    Credit card surcharges have become rarer in Europe, but it’s worth keeping in mind that they do still exist in some countries – merchants may automatically charge you an extra fee for paying with a credit card (and they might not let you know that they’re doing it). If in doubt, ask before deciding how you want to pay.

EU ban on credit card surcharges

In January 2018 the EU required member states to adopt the Payment Service Directive 2 (PSD2). The PSD2 is a ban on card payment surcharges – that’s when a retailer adds a fee because you’re paying using a credit card. However, it’s important to note that there are limitations and exceptions to this rule and there are other fees that may apply when you pay by credit card. If your card is from a non-EU bank, uses a network other than Visa or Mastercard or is a business/corporate card, then the merchant may still levy a surcharge.

American Express foreign transaction fees

Table: sorted by representative APR, promoted deals first
Data indicated here is updated daily
Name Product Foreign usage charge (EU) Foreign usage charge (rest of world) Purchases Annual/monthly fees Rep. APR Link Incentive Representative example
American Express Rewards Credit Card
2.99%
2.99%
22.2%
£0
22.2% (variable)
As a new Cardmember, earn 5,000 Membership Rewards® points when you spend £2,000 in your first 6 months of Cardmembership.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 22.2% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 22.2% APR (variable).
British Airways American Express Card
2.99%
2.99%
22.2%
£0
22.2% (variable)
New Cardmember offer: Earn 5,000 bonus Avios when you spend £1,000 in your first 6 months of Cardmembership.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 22.2% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 22.2% APR (variable).
American Express Platinum Cashback Everyday Card
2.99%
2.99%
22.2%
£0
22.2% (variable)
New Cardmember offer: Get 5% cashback on your purchases (up to £100) for the first 6 months of Cardmembership.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 22.2% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 22.2% APR (variable).
The American Express Nectar Credit Card
2.99%
2.99%
22.2%
Year 1 - £0, Year 2 onwards - £25 per annum
27.3% (variable)
As a new Cardmember, earn 20,000 bonus Nectar points when you spend £2,000 in your first 6 months of Cardmembership.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 22.2% (variable) p.a. with a fee of Year 1 - £0, Year 2 onwards - £25 per annum, your representative rate is 27.3% APR (variable).
American Express Platinum Cashback Card
2.99%
2.99%
22.2%
£25 per annum
27.3% (variable)
As a new Cardmember, get 5% cashback on your purchases (up to £125) for the first six months of Cardmembership.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 22.2% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £25 per annum, your representative rate is 27.3% APR (variable).
loading

Compare up to 4 providers

Data indicated here is updated daily
Name Product Foreign usage charge (EU) Foreign usage charge (rest of world) Purchases Annual/monthly fees Rep. APR Link Incentive Representative example
American Express Gold Business Card
2.99%
2.99%
Year 1 - £0, Year 2 onwards - £125
N/A (this product is a charge card).
Earn 20,000 bonus Membership Rewards® points when you spend £3,000 in first 6 months of Card membership. Earn 1 Membership Rewards® point for every £1 spent thereafter.
American Express Platinum Business Card
2.99%
2.99%
£595 p.a.
N/A (this product is a charge card).
Earn 18,000 Membership Rewards points for each approved referred friend.
British Airways American Express Accelerating Business Card
2.99%
2.99%
22.2%
£210 per annum
80.3% (variable)
Earn 1.5 On Business Points for every £1 spent with BA on eligible flights and 1.5 Avios for every eligible £1 spent on credit card. Earn an extra 3,000 On Business Points annually when £20K or more spent by card anniversary.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 22.2% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £210 per annum, your representative rate is 80.3% APR (variable).
loading

Compare up to 4 providers

What about alternatives to American Express?

Table: sorted by representative APR, promoted deals first

If the Amex card you have (or are considering) isn’t great for overseas use, you may opt to switch to an alternative credit card, or even to take out a second card that you only use when you’re out of the country. Here are some cards with favourable overseas spending terms.

Data indicated here is updated daily
Name Product Foreign usage charge (EU) Foreign usage charge (rest of world) Purchases Annual/monthly fees Rep. APR Link Incentive Representative example
Tandem Bank Journey Credit Card Mastercard
0%
0%
24.9%
£0
24.9% (variable)
No fees for making purchases or withdrawing cash abroad – currencies are converted at the standard Mastercard exchange rate.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 24.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 24.9% APR (variable).
Ulster Bank Credit Card Mastercard
0%
0%
9.9%
£0
9.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 9.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 9.9% APR (variable).
The Royal Bank Credit Card
0%
0%
9.9%
£0
9.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 9.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 9.9% APR (variable).
The NatWest Credit Card
0%
0%
9.9%
£0
9.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 9.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 9.9% APR (variable).
Santander Zero Credit Card Mastercard
0%
0%
0% for 12 months reverting to 18.9%
£0
18.9% (variable)
Retailer offers - 5 Welcome offers of up to 25% cashback at well-known retailers (must switch on Retailer Offers within 60 days of activating card).
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 18.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 18.9% APR (variable).
loading

Compare up to 4 providers

Some digital banks including Curve and Revolut offer alternative ways to get around fees when paying with plastic abroad.

With Curve, for example, you can control multiple cards from your Curve card and app, and even if your card issuer charges exchange fees, Curve will convert the currency for you at the standard Mastercard exchange rate. Just be aware that restrictions and limitations do apply – you can read our full guide to find out more.

Frequently asked questions

We show offers we can track - that's not every product on the market...yet. Unless we've said otherwise, products are in no particular order. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations of these) aren't ratings, though we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it. This is subject to our terms of use. When you make major financial decisions, consider getting independent financial advice. Always consider your own circumstances when you compare products so you get what's right for you.

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder.com provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and Terms of Use.

Questions and responses on finder.com are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.
Go to site